Alabama’s Gay-Sex Ban Overturned

alabamaCivil rights groups cheered last week when an Alabama appeals court struck down part of a state sexual misconduct law, ruling it as unconstitutional.

Under the now dead statute, a person was guilty of “sexual misconduct” if they engaged in any “act of sexual gratification between persons not married to each other involving the sex organs of one person and the mouth or anus of another.” Essentially, it banned oral and anal sex between two unmarried, consenting adults.

The ruling sprung from the case of Dewayne Williams vs. State of Alamabam. Though Williams was not convicted in 2010 of first-degree sodomy after having acknowledged his participation in the act, the Dallas County, Alabama man was convicted of the “lesser-included offense” of sexual misconduct despite his argument that it was all consensual.

“Each and every person, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity, is entitled to equal protection under the law,” said Ben Cooper, chairman for Equality Alabama. “The Alabama court’s unanimous decision overturning the statute is a step in the right direction and makes us optimistic for future and ongoing equal rights through the continued elimination of unconstitutional provisions in our state’s constitution that violate privacy and equal protections.”

“The more that courts can rule against any state’s regulation of consensual adult sexual conduct, then a more helpful legal path is paved for the LBGT community to challenge these same states’ laws that ban same-sex marriages. These states’ narrow definitions, that marriage can be recognized only if it is between a man and a woman, lose substantive credibility as courts rule against state laws seeking to ban behavior or characteristics related to the LBGT community.”  states Maria A. Sanders, Attorney at Law, Chief Operating Officer, Legislative Intent Service, Inc.

According to a survey conducted by the Human Rights Campaign, a national advocacy group for the rights of the LGBT community, Alabama is one of a dozen states that has laws banning consensual homosexual sex. Apart from the obvious problems of these pieces of legislation, official commentary on this now dead statute indicates that it was specially intended to “make all homosexual conduct criminal.”

Naturally, this makes the court’s ruling a big victory for civil rights groups, as executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama Susan Watson points out.

“Aiming to ban consensual sex is flat out wrong,” Watson explained. “A person’s sexual orientation shouldn’t matter. Consensual sex is consensual sex.”

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